Part 2 Night Lights: Shifting Through Dream Image Work:

This is the second part of a 3 part essay on Healing Dream Image Work

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We are sometimes gifted with healing dreams to compensate for our sorrows.  Throughout the years I have been following my dreams, both sad and celebratory scenarios would appear alternately and sometimes simultaneously depending upon what was happening psychically in my life. C.G. Jung referred to some dreams as “numinous” because they appear other-worldly, often implanted vividly in our memory, carrying an emotional charge of mystery, beauty and wonder. Trees glowing with fruit, discoveries of fascinating objects, archetypal religious figures, deceased friends and relatives close to the dreamer’s heart, dreams of weddings, pregnancies and babies all fall into this category.

 For all the troubling dreams I’ve had, others were numinous. Sometimes dark and light elements would be in the same dream. One dream presented an attack dog that transformed to a Pegasus. Another of a snakebite ended with gorgeous crystals growing out of my fingers. In fact, dreams are often born of the tension between oppositional attitudes, judgments or opinions. Everything in the dream is an aspect of ourselves and we hold within us multiple subjectivities. We are indeed multi-dimensional beings and some dreams can even contain what we might call “bleed-throughs” of a previous life.  

 Numinous dreams can be recognized by the strength of their imprint on the dreamer. I still recall a dream I had when I was twelve where I was dancing in a forest with exquisite light to Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.” At the time I remember drawing the dream to try and recapture the euphoria I felt. I don’t recall what might have provoked the dream but as a child I wanted to be a ballerina and must have remembered myself in the freedom of the dance many times. In later years, I held onto it by preserving it in a prose poem.

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 Something Joyous

 A hedge of trees fences me in sleep. An aisle of cypresses, young woman dancing between them, celebrating her serpentine shadow inward and outward above fairies’ lairs. The sky waxes creamsicle-tangerine, not quite titian, and the cypresses, so green they’re black.  They have no arms, though legs hold up their skirts and all too human feet tramp down the continent of chartreuse grass.  We are up to our crowns in Tchaikovsky’s strings—I am twelve years old and so grateful to be dreaming, grateful for the loving animal in my lap, one wrist strung with Aunt Adeline’s rosary, the other hand on Grandma Clementine’s tiara, the old world songs stroking my hair.

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The dream is the most direct route to unconscious wounds. And it will gauge how much progress or regression is going on in daily living. But dreams are not solely composed of past emotional experiences, trauma and the like.  We have “numinous” dreams, as well as “prescient” or “prospective” dreams that will indicate the future, and moreover, we can “incubate” these dreams. We can ask for dreams to help us make decisions, solve problems, and resolve issues. Our dreams also compensate for an egoic position that is too strongly held, especially in victimization. We can think too highly of ourselves and/or too lowly, and the dream will help us find balance by showing the opposite of what we think is true about ourselves. The reason Jung referred to these dreams as “compensatory” was because they compensated for the conscious viewpoint.

 Our minds file the images of our cultural icons and project them into new archetypes. I’ve had numerous dreams about performing with Madonna. I love dancing but as an introvert, I need to find and courageously identify my brazen, inner Rock Star. These dreams are fun and healing in that they show me I can achieve more success by putting myself out there dancing on stage, bringing down the house. I recall my Madonna dreams having many costume changes. They come at times when I am trying on new attitudes, expanding ideas about who I am. url-2

 Many of my healing dreams have had spiritual themes, especially when I was involved in a spiritual writing project or research. I’ve also dreamt of hanging out with Jesus!   I remember a dream when I was walking with St. Paul and Jesus as if I’d just joined their club, as if I were struck by lightning and illumined. A medium once told me that particular dream concerned the faith I’d had in past lives. I awoke feeling blessed. In my memoir I’ve written about dreams relating to the Feminine Goddess, the rejected Black Madonna who exemplifies the beneficent, powerful, archetypal feminine which had been       excised from       url-3Patriarchal Christianity and is now emerging in many powerful women worldwide. The 21st century has been deemed the century of women, although I think it’s as much about the feminine qualities becoming empowered, the power of compassion and nurturing and kindness. Not that only women have these characteristics, but men who have developed their so-called “feminine side.”

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In a dream the point of view we take is almost always that of the ego. We see the projections around us, people, landscapes, objects, animals as having objective reality. But we don’t identify with the projections. Most of the time we would flat out deny that the angry tsunami about to break over our head, the terrorist pistol-whipping the airline pilot, the black Doberman with jaws like a shark, the homeless street-person picking through trash, the lewd-looking, busty waitress . . . has anything to do with a part of ourselves. Yet an experienced dream guide can move us in slow motion out of the ego’s position and into the bodies of these characters, and with careful questioning sudden realizations occur. Not only is the shadowy aspect recognized, we often discover where the trigger, the parallel of that emotion, is showing up in our lives now.url-4

When we know which projection has been activated, we can see the whole situation from a new perspective. We will identify the feeling from a past situation that may still have a strong hold over us. The dream stretches, opening a back office onto the past, showing the door we’ve just stepped through again in the present. Once we can consciously experience these realizations within the imaginative dreamscape, the dream can be taken onward. Once we know the reason we had the dream, we may even stay imaginatively in the dreamscape and watch alternative scenarios arise.

As we change old synaptic pathways by instilling new imagery, our unconscious mind also changes and may deliver up those special dream gifts that tell us we’re making progress. Although there will be regressions, and the unconscious keeps serving up new areas that “need work,” we do shift. The body’s field of energy works in mysterious ways attracting new experiences. And who’s to say our life in the dream dimensions isn’t part of some unfolding, divine plan?

One healing dream I had was auditory, quite simply a song. This dream, once again, came in response to a difficult, emotional period. I could barely recall anything of the dream except that I was singing, or listening to the Beatles’ song “Blackbird.”  When I awoke I didn’t remember the lyrics except the first line.  Fortunately we live in the age of the internet and I could easily access the lyrics that go on to speak about broken wings healing, learning to fly, looking forward to a rising moment when I’ll see light in place of darkness. url-5

It was as if The Beatles were singing to me, encouraging optimism and renewal, forward movement and freedom at a moment I needed those very attributes. The broken wings were mending, would have to mend in order to soar fearlessly into the black night. The reference to “broken” helps me accept the time in the past that left me paralyzed and shows me my mindset is a key to actualization. I took it as a challenge and a boon to my prevailing mood.

Another adjacent fact is that I was fifteen when my father died and had just turned sixteen when I went to the Beatles’ first concert in the United States at Carnegie Hall in February 1964. The decade of Beatles years paralleled my formative years. Although the song “Blackbird” comes later in their career, I credit my unconscious mind for stringing together the pertinent symbols found in the lyrics of The Fab Four. url-6Since my father’s death was the seminal event of my life, the one that marked my unconscious, I consider this a very healing dream.

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Check in for Part 3 on Creative Ways to Work with Dreams

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